It has been a challenging start to the year. We continue to be extremely busy across the Royal Free London (RFL) – we are seeing more COVID-19 patients than we did during the first peak in spring 2020.
Every day our staff continue to amaze me, pulling out all the stops to make sure we can deliver the best care possible. We have had more than 200 staff deployed to support in intensive care and nearly 250 non-clinical staff, from over 40 services, deployed into COVID support roles.
The incredible efforts of our staff have featured on ITV news and in the Daily Mail. We hope an insight into our hospitals will give the public a deeper understanding of how COVID-19 is affecting our hospitals. You can read more in this week’s update.
The COVID-19 vaccination programme is well under way at the RFL. We have vaccinated over 11,500 health and care staff, and over 80s in north central London. We are proud to be part of such a fantastic effort across the NHS and continue to work extremely hard to give the vaccine to as many people as possible in the priority groups.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your continued support. The coming weeks and months are no doubt going to be tough but working together, we will get through this.
Group chief executive
Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust
Changes to opening times: adult out-patient phlebotomy service at the Royal Free Hospital
The opening hours for the adult out-patient phlebotomy service at the Royal Free Hospital have changed.
The service is open six days every week. It is open from 7.40am to 5.30pm, Monday to Friday (except bank holidays) and 8am to 1pm on Saturdays.
Blood taking services are open at Barnet Hospital, Chase Farm Hospital, Edgware Community Hospital and the Royal Free Hospital. These are open for all blood tests. An appointment must be booked for all tests - patients will not be able to walk into our hospitals for their blood test.
Details about how patients can book a test are available on our website.
Supporting communication between our patients and their relatives/friends
We know this is a very difficult time for our patients and their relatives and friends. To support communication, patients are being asked who they would like as their key contact for staff to provide updates to.
The person nominated as the key contact is being asked to support us in liaising with other family members and friends, and enable our teams to focus on delivering care.
We would be grateful if you could share this through your channels and with anyone who might ask you about this.
Please encourage members of the public to call NHS 111 first if they think they need to attend our emergency departments for an urgent, but not serious or life-threatening, medical need.
Public Health England has released campaign resources to help promote the use of NHS 111. They can be found in Public Health England’s resource centre.
NHS 111 aims to make it easier and safer for patients to get the right treatment at the right time. It means that if patients need to be seen at an emergency department, an appointment can be booked via NHS 111.
By contacting NHS 111 first – whether online or by phone – for an urgent, but not serious or life-threatening medical need, people will:
speak with a healthcare professional earlier, and get the right treatment first time
be able to arrange an urgent face-to-face appointment, if needed
avoid waiting for a long time in emergency waiting rooms
NHS 111 can also make direct appointments at GP surgeries and urgent treatment centres. They can also despatch an ambulance if the patient’s condition is serious or life-threatening.
Arrangements have not changed for people with serious or life-threatening illnesses or injuries, who should continue to dial 999 without delay.
Staff working in the intensive care unit at the Royal Free Hospital featured on ITV News. The crew spent time filming and hearing the experiences of our staff.
You can watch the report and hear the experiences of our staff here.
ITV News also featured a report on the SIREN study, which looks at the possibility of long-term immunity following COVID-19. The report features an interview with Professor Alison Rodger, principal investigator for the RFL. You can watch the report on the ITV News website.
We also welcomed a reporter and photographer from the Daily Mail to see the reality of our fight against COVID-19.
The article focussed on the incredible lengths that our staff go to in ensuring that every patient is treated with care and compassion. You can read the article here.
Latest information for the public
We have a dedicated COVID-19 section on our website. The latest information for patients and visitors, and our patient resources library, can be found here. This page is continually being updated to reflect the changing situation.
New community vaccination hub at the Royal Free Charity
The Royal Free Charity's recreation club at the Royal Free Hospital has been turned into a community vaccination hub.
The new hub, run by a group of local GPs, is part of the nationwide vaccine roll out to protect those most vulnerable from COVID-19.
It is not the first time the recreation club has reinvented itself during the pandemic. During the first wave, it turned its sports hall into a free shop providing food and other essentials so that frontline staff could avoid having to queue in busy supermarkets after long shifts.
Patients should not contact the hospital or charity to book a vaccination. The GP group running the hub will contact those eligible according to the priority groups.
Full details can be found on the Royal Free Charity’s website.
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